Do Free-to-Play Games have the Right Idea?

Free to play games have gained a lot of popularity and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. Games like Team Fortress 2 from creators Valve have gone completely free-to-play. Also there is the branching series like Battlefield Heroes which comes from the Battlefield series by developers EA. Then there are open-source games that are made free-to-play just because people want to experiment with certain concepts and see what happens in the game for example MariO, which is a mash-up of both Portal and Mario Bros. Why do games go free-to-play you may ask or why are games free-to-play? Well with every question there is most of the time an answer.

Team Fortress 2 could only be bought through purchasing it on steam or is also available with the purchase of The Orange Box. For those who don’t know what Team fortress 2 is, it’s a cartoon like, almost cell-shaded first-person shooter. Most people that play this game play it through Steam because of that the fact it is free-to-play. But this game caught a lot of gathering with its first title in 1999 and with its sequel in 2007 going free to play it only increased its popularity. what made Valve turn this game into a free-to-play game you may ask? According to an interview between Develop and Valve’s Robin Walker, he says the reason for this change was because the data they collected from an update named Mann-conomy showed them that Team Fortress would be better off as a free game. So now the game is works through micro transactions which allows players the buy in game items, but also allows player that don’t want to pay to craft or unlock some of the same items through crafting or achievement unlocking.

There are also games that branch off a certain popular series like Battlefield Heroes did with the Battlefield series. This game was meant to be free-to-play from the beginning unlike Team Fortress 2 did. But if you compare the 2 games they are almost identical except one is a third-person shooter and the other a first-person shooter. This game seems to have more customization that team fortress, but also includes the same micro transaction concept. The only difference is that this gives people that use money in the game a slight advantage over the people that don’t use money. Just because EA  puts out certain events which give players special items in order to balance every type of player. This is to help every player keep engaged and not want to quit the game because they overpowered players are destroying them every time they respawn.

Then there are games that are share-ware type games that were inspired by different games. This is seen in Mari0 which is Super Mario Bros. with the portal gun from Portal. This is a free that everyone can play by just downloading it. It’s basically the whole Super Mario game with a level creator and an exciting twist to it . This 2D games surprisingly uses the portal gun with unique physiques (considering the 2D limitations) that makes you want keep replaying the game over just to see what would happen if  you shot the portals in different areas. This type of game is Free-To-Play, but it is not like the first game that give the players an option to build their own Super Mario Bros. level so that you can mess around with the 2D portal physiques that it the game has given. This is a good example how games can be Free-To-Play without any strings attached for the most part. Other games like flash games are like this, except you don’t the replayability of flash games aren’t the same as those of a game like MariO or a game like Spelunky that is also a open-source game and is also free to play. Both these games also allow people to play around with its codes so that they can mod the game they want.

All Free-to-Play games are meant to make people entertained for the longest time possible. The majority of these games are either continuously being updated for the players or the players themselves can mess around with the code of the games. Free-to-Play games are leaving their mark on the game industry so much so that games that see a opportunity to get into that market dip their fingers into the Free-to-Play market to attract a larger audience.

  2 comments for “Do Free-to-Play Games have the Right Idea?

  1. cristina
    March 16, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I thought the subject manner of your blog post was interesting, but really felt that you could have explored it more. I think if you compared them to regular games and the advantages or popularity of both, your blog post would have come together a bit more. Your conclusion could have been expanded because I felt as if you were just describing different Free-To-Play games and then suddenly referred back to the title of the post.

    I did however find the extensive detail of the different types of Free-To-Play games interesting and informative. I also agree with you that Free-To-Play games are greatly influencing the video game world and have gained a large amount of success and popularity. I personally prefer the traditional video games vs. Free-To-Play simply because they’re tangible and more convenient .

  2. Mamoru Fuun
    March 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I’ve had a lot of experience playing F2P (free-to-play) games over the years, mostly from the MMORPG Runescape. The free version of the game comes with about 30 something quests, about 12 trainable skills, and limited methods to train these skills. Like most free games though there is an optional payment plan where one can pay about $7 a month to be upgraded to member status. Members enjoy perks such as more advanced weapons and armors, over 100 more challenging quests, about 13 member only skills and more faster and efficient ways to train said skills.

    Now I spent a long time just playing the free version alone and was pretty content with that alone. However soon I grew bored and tried the member plan and was actually pretty amazed at the game-play and privileges I was missing out on. I guess the point I’m trying to get across is that creating and distributing a game for free, while limiting the game-play aspects, seems like a pretty goo marketing strategy to tease players into wanting to experience more.

    Additionally a new update has also introduced an in-game store aspect to Runescape known as Solomen’s shop. Players are able to buy skins for optional weapon and clothing appearances, special alternate animations for spells, and titles. Now all the items and statuses are really quite worthless in the long run, just to make things more customizable. However this update was actually received quite poorly initially, players rioted saying Runescape has become a sell out charging players for such frivolous things. I never understood the big deal myself, certainly it was something Runescape had never done before but it was just adapting to what players expected from newer video games.

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